Will Smith has continued to hit at an elite level since making his MLB debut in 2019, but that has yet to translate into being recognized as one of the game’s best players like some of his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates.
The 27-year-old is a career .261/.369/.508 hitter with a 133 wRC+, which equates to offensive production that is 10% better than the next-closest catcher since he came into the league. This season, only two catchers have outperformed Smith offensively, and he is batting .257/.348/.454 with a 128 wRC+.
While Smith doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts hears from opposing teams about how much they dislike facing the star backstop.
“He definitely goes unnoticed, just the consistency of his play,” Roberts said. “And obviously, he sort of just kind of puts his head down and doesn’t get the fanfare that other players do, and I don’t think he’d have it any other way.
“But I do know that other teams and managers know they don’t like when he’s in the batter’s box. And I hear it all the time from other coaches and players too.”
Smith has made a knack for coming through in the biggest moments throughout his career. On Friday, he hit a fifth career walk-off and over his career when the game is in a late and close situation, Smith is batting .275/.393/.634 in 173 plate appearances.
“It’s his heartbeat,” Roberts said about what makes Smith so successful in clutch situations. “There’s no panic, he stays within himself, doesn’t chase out of the zone. There’s been many, many situations where we need a baserunner or we need a big hit, and Will comes through, and just like tonight.
“And I just really love watching him grow into an All-Star player. So hopefully that’s validated this year.”
While Chicago Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras was named the starter for the National League All-Star team, he is currently dealing with a hamstring injury.
If Contreras is unable to play in the Midsummer Classic, Smith should be the NL’s starter behind the dish. But even if Contreras is able to participate, Smith has a strong case to be named as a reserve after being snubbed last season.
Brandon Gomes shared support for Smith’s All-Star case
Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes shared similar sentiments as Roberts and expressed his support for Smith to make the All-Star team.
“Will Smith I think is probably one of the most underappreciated players in the game,” Gomes said at the eighth Dodgers All-Access event. “You could argue he’s the best all-around catcher right now.
“I think the way he goes about his business, very quiet, under the radar, conducts professional at-bats. I think it would be really cool to see him out there.”
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